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Old 09-19-2018, 05:03 PM   #1
Keblar
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2002 SL2
Default Chasing Front End Noise for Years

'02 SL2 Automatic with 295k miles

I've been chasing and slowly eliminating front end noise on an SL2 for nearly 6 years now and around 45k miles. It sat for almost 2 years, but still.

I've been slowly bringing it back from lawn ornament status for a few months as a back up car now, and I think this is the last of the piecemeal suspension oscillations to be eliminated.

Symptom: Very pronounce, regular interval THUMP - WHUMP, WHUMP, WHUMP, WHUMP - sound that is directly speed related. It does not vary or oscillate at a given speed: if I hold a steady straight speed the frequency and volume holds dead steady. It's been isolated to the Right/Passenger side. No play in axle. No apparent movement on the wheel hub (jacked pulling on tire), and no telltale whine or bearing grinding.

There's not much volume or intensity relief when turning either direction, but the thump/whump itself is MUCH more pronounced and distinct within a particular range turning to the left.

Here's a short video using the, maybe kind of dumb and dangerous, EricTheCarGuy isolation method: https://vimeo.com/290758855 You can hear it start at around 0:10 when the throttle is eased on. It's not as loud here without the weight of the car, but with a full load when driving, it's a much more distinct and isolated thump.


Details: Trying to eliminate vibrations and noises, EVERY front right component, except the wheel/rim itself had been changed over the past 6 years and 45k miles. The hub and bearings are the oldest, followed by the tie rod ends and lower control arm (left sides were replaced about a month later). We got a new car and the Saturn wasn't driven much so out of frustration I just lived with it and put it off (intake coolant leak slowly put it to pasture.)

Before the car was parked for almost 2 years I thought I'd isolated it to a bad R axle/CV or bad bearings at the inner jackshaft. So, when it was clear the car would run again I replaced the R side with a used (allegedly lower mileage) full shaft, along with new brake pads and disks, and a new strut.

Once it was driving again, there was a really bad thump and roar and a left front tire was clearly separating and bulged, and I thought, "are you kidding me! That last remaining noise was a slowly worsening tire this whole damn time?!" BUT, 4 new balanced tires revealed the old noise is in fact still there.


I suppose it COULD be bushings, but the sound is SO solidly rhythmic, with no other oscillation that I'm putting that possibility aside for now.

I'm inclined to think that bearings are the problem, again. It could still be a problem with the axle, but it seems less likely that I'd wind up swapping out a full axle with almost exactly the same problem. Plus, these old S-Series seems to eat bearings these days. That or all the replacements are jut garbage anymore. Whenever anyone here describes a "thunk", "clunk", or "thump", more often than not it seems to winds up being bearings. If so, that's really disappointing after only 45k miles, since I paid extra for Timken at the time. But, the alignment IS off some, and as I've discovered, the name Timken is virtually worthless these days anymore, and it's a complete craps shoot as to what you'll actually get in that box with the Timken name on it.

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Old 09-19-2018, 06:33 PM   #2
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2001 SL1
Default Re: Chasing Front End Noise for Years

My money is with a bad bearing.
With that many miles, I would press in bearings on both sides.

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Old 09-19-2018, 11:02 PM   #3
Keblar
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Chasing Front End Noise for Years

It's so frustrating that the OEM's last 100k, 150k, 200k+ miles before starting to "soil the bed", but we repeatedly find drivers on here that can't get 50k out of repaired bearings.

I bought a pre-pressed new hub when I replaced this right side in '12, a little over 45k miles ago, and paid extra to get Timken, around $80. Then, when replacing the left I found what I thought was a decent deal on Timken bearings, but I had to special order and get them pressed into the old hub. When I got them they weren't even Timken, they were SNK. I seem to recall that they were marked SNK Germany, and decided they were an adequate, if not superior substitute. So, the Left bearings are maybe a 1000 miles at most behind the right. I'll wait and see how they hold up.

I have a neighbor who works in the service dept at a local Stealership and is willing to press the old bearings in and out at no charge, so this time around it should only cost me the whatever adequate bearings I can manage, plus the cost of a decent thank you gift.

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Old 10-08-2018, 04:53 PM   #4
Keblar
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Chasing Front End Noise for Years

Follow up on this thread.

The bearing WAS bad. There was no play in the hub at all. However once the knuckle was out and I could spin the hub with my hand I could finally feel a faint drag/grind with a noticeable bad spot at the same point in rotation.

The old/failed/damaged bearing wound up being F.A.G. Brazil, but was purchased as a Timken whole hub, in a Timken box, with a Timken hologram sticker. It would have started to fail within roughly 5000 miles, since that's the point where I replaced the driver side bearing only to be frustrated to find continued front end noise.

The driver side was [I]also[I] purchased as Timken from AutoZone, but turned out to be SKF Germany in a Timken box (no holo). Those were pressed in with the original OEM hub and still seem to be solid after roughly 5 years (1.5+ of which it sat parked), and ~45k miles.

New bearing is an SFK Spain pressed into the old hub. We'll see how this one holds up.

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